Miscegenation: ‘Fake news’ even during the Civil War

The term miscegenation was made up in the 1860s by joining the Latin words miscere (to mix) and genus (race or kind) and tacking on “ation.”

A fake pamphlet that circulated in 1864 – “Miscegenation: The Theory of the Blending of the Races, Applied to the American White Man and Negro” – coined the term. Democrats wrote the tract, which advocated interracial marriage. But they tried to make it appear that the pamphlet was the work of Lincoln and his Republicans. (Didn’t work; Lincoln was re-elected that year.)

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A detail of the binding of the tract that Democrats tried to hang on Lincoln and the Republicans in 1864. (Library of Congress)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A sample passage: “The aristocrat of the South, for a century has gained strength by the association with his slaves. Let the poor and degraded whites of the South mingle with the negroes who have also partaken of the bitter fruits of slavery; let our soldiers occupy the plantations with those that are more fitted for their companionship.”

» RELATED: A timeline of Loving v Virginia

Anti-miscegenation statutes had long since swept the South. At least 16 states, including the 11 Confederate states, had such laws in force when the court ruled in the Loving case. Georgia’s statute, a form of which was first adopted in 1750, forbade any nonwhite person from marrying any white person. It was overturned with 15 others by the ruling. Virginia was first colony to enact an anti-miscegenation law, in 1691.


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